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IET Satcom 2018

ESA signs Govsatcom Precursor Pacis-6 contract with Inmarsat

(10 April 2018 - ESA) Inmarsat has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the Prime Contractor for the new “PACIS-6” Govsatcom Precursor project.

The Inmarsat-led initiative will develop and demonstrate a pooling and sharing (P&S) platform that will enable European Government users and European Union (EU) agencies to access secure, affordable commercial satellite services that can augment and enhance their existing government-owned satcom capabilities.

The project will show government users how to access secure capacity from our unique Global Xpress (GX) constellation; the world’s only commercially available global military Ka-band satellite network, and will be of particular importance in supporting crisis response agencies, border security, diplomatic networks, disaster response, critical infrastructure, and peacekeeping missions.

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ESA’s Carlo Elia and Inmarsat’s Andy Start sign the Govsatcom Precursor Pacis-6 contract at ESA ESTEC. Pacis-6 will see the creation of a new open platform for pooling and sharing of commercial secure satcom services. (courtesy: ESA-G. Porter)

Consortium specialists

The Govsatcom PACIS-6 consortium also includes cyber security and digital transformation specialists CGI, and government solution and application specialists AnsuR and Teamnet.

Andy Start, President of Inmarsat Global Government, said: “Inmarsat is already a major satcom service provider to many European governments via our highly reliable, mobile L-band network.

“These satcom solutions include mission critical services such as L-band Tactical Satcom (L-TAC), and our commercial and military Ka-band network powered by Inmarsat’s Global Xpress High Throughput Satellites. Our satellite access stations in Holland, Italy and Greece support the delivery of these services to our European customers.

Open platform

“We are delighted that ESA has selected Inmarsat to help shape the ESA Govsatcom Precursor programme. This ESA/Inmarsat partnership will enable a new open platform for pooling and sharing of innovative and secure satcom services for European agencies and governments.”

Carlo Elia, Head of Telecommunications, ESA said: “The ESA Govsatcom Precursor Programme is developing new government satellite communications service concepts.

“Intelligent management of commercially provided satcom services is expected to be a key pillar for providing competitive global secure satcom services including such services in support to European institutional needs and a future GOVSATCOM. ESA is pleased to be working with Inmarsat on this programme.”

P&S platform

Inmarsat and its consortium partner CGI will develop a prototype P&S platform that will intelligently pool and share capacity amongst multiple different systems, satellites and operators.

The Govsatcom P&S platform is intended to prepare for a ‘one-stop-shop’ for satcom procurement by European government end users and users on the global market. Customers will be able to procure government specific terminals, satcom services, and applications that fit their bespoke operational requirement and budget.

Multiple end user satellite service demonstrations will be conducted during the project, covering a range of different civil government services, including connectivity for ‘head of state’ aircraft, the utilisation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for border security and critical infrastructure operations, and disaster response or crisis management scenarios.

Throughout these demonstrations, the consortium will deploy Inmarsat’s Impact! Demonstration Suite, where end users will visually immerse themselves in augmented reality to test the Inmarsat P&S platform and develop operational satcom requirements.

The ESA Govsatcom Precursor Programme

ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor projects, including PACIS-6, are the first steps to demonstrate how the European space industry can respond to a globally emerging market of secure satcom and support the future EU Govsatcom initiative; developed under the auspices of the European Commission.

ESA’s Govsatcom Precursor consists of several PACIS projects based on public–private partnerships with major European satellite operators and service providers in the 2017-20 timeframe. At present, the programme includes three projects with three further projects planned to join in 2018. The ESA programme is being implemented in collaboration with the European Commission and the European Defence Agency.

These projects are called PACIS after the Ara Pacis Augustae, an altar in Rome dedicated to the Roman god of peace, Pax.